Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tammuz 5764 - June 30, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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IDF Enters Gaza as Qassams Murder 4 Year Old
by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday that Israel Defense Forces troops will take over the area in Gaza from which Qassam rockets were fired at Israel for the past few days. Mofaz was referring to the area between Beit Hanoun and the Jabalya refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip, and said that troops would remain there for as long as necessary.

Observers said that the IDF does not seem to be moving into settled areas, but only setting up observation posts and positions from which to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel.

Palestinians fired two Qassam rockets at Sderot Tuesday morning, moderately injuring one man, 24 hours after a young child and a 49-year-old man were killed by a rocket that landed beside a nursery school in the western Negev town on Monday morning. The young boy was being taken to school by his mother, who was seriously injured in the attack, and the older man, an immigrant from Buchara, was taking his grandchild to school. The murdered boy was late for class and therefore he was still outside when the rocket fell in the middle of the street near the school for 35 young children. The man was waiting outside while his daughter brought her son inside to school.

At the funeral later that day for his son, the father said that he had waited 15 years for him, but now he was taken after so short a time. "That's what Hashem wanted," he said.

Sderot was founded about 50 years ago for immigrants, many of them from North Africa and lately from the former Soviet Union. It now has about 24,000 residents.

The response in Gaza began with a late Monday air strike on a Hamas-linked media center located in a 16 story building in Gaza. The high-rise targeted by the IAF houses several media outlets, including the Arab TV satellite station Al Jazeera. White smoke rose from the building and ambulances raced to the scene.

The army said that the Hamas office it targeted was "a communication center which maintained constant contact with terrorists [and] through which Hamas claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks." It is a war crime to locate a combat installation in a building that also houses noncombatant installations.

Minutes later, helicopters also fired a missile at a building housing a metal workshop in the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. The foundry was said to have been destroyed in the strike, with no reports of casualties. The IDF said Hamas used the foundry to manufacture weapons.

The deaths of the four-year-old and the man marked the first time in nearly four years of fighting that Israelis were killed by rockets from Gaza. Since the start of the intifadah in September 2000, 347 Qassam rockets have been fired at Israeli targets, of which 265 have landed within the Green Line.

The Qassam rockets are only vaguely aimed and are completely unguided once they take off. They are long steel pipes that are fueled with fertilizer and have a payload of about 10 kilograms (22 lb.) of explosives. Their range is no longer than about 10 kilometers (6 miles) but Beit Hanoun is only about two kilometers from Sderot.

Palestinian security sources said Tuesday that a Palestinian had been killed so far in the IDF raid. The victim was a Hamas man setting up a bomb in the path of oncoming Israeli troops who was spotted and shot.

One of the Qassams in the Tuesday shelling landed in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town, the other in an open area outside the city.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Sycamore Ranch home is located just outside Sderot, and is believed to be the target of many of the Qassam missiles.

On Sunday the Ochan post in Gaza was blown up. IDF Staff Sergeant Roi Nissim was killed and five troops were wounded. Terrorists detonated 150 kilograms of explosives in a tunnel they had dug underneath the post in the central Gaza settlement bloc of Gush Katif.

On Monday, IDF troops also destroyed two empty eight-story buildings in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Strip located a few hundred meters from the Ochan stronghold. A ventilation shaft for the tunnel under Ochan was found between the buildings, and it was believed that the tunnel passed beneath them.

Following the attacks, Mofaz cancelled a trip to Italy later in the week.

On Tuesday morning, a 63-year-old Israeli man was found shot dead south of Elkana in an area controlled by the Palestinian Authority known as Area A. It is off limits to Israelis, though some go there to do business.

The man's truck was found parked by Red Crescent paramedics. He had been shot in the chest in his truck, which had been sprayed with gunfire. The Red Crescent paramedics told Israeli authorities, who reported that the man had a criminal record.

The Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, a terrorist group with links to Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, took responsibility for the murder.


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